Going for a job interview is nerve-wrecking, no matter how many times you may have done it before. When preparing candidates before their interviews, I observe a whole variety of reactions when I asked the question, “How are you feeling about going for the interview?”. Some are nervous, some are confident, some seem completely non-plussed. There isn’t a right or wrong way to feel before an interview, so of course I personalise the coaching and pre-interview advice to each individual. However, there is always one thing that everyone has in common and is in the back of each person’s mind: how many other candidates are being interviewed for the same role.
In theory, the fewer other candidates there are, the less competition there is and the greater chance there is of you getting the job, right?
To an extent, yes this is true. If there are 10 interviews and only one job, your chances of success are slimmer. But if you are the only candidate, or one of two, the company may hesitate to make a job offer even if your interview goes really well. The general feeling is that 3 or 4 candidates in total makes for the best interview experience for everyone, but every situation is going to be slightly different. And ultimately, should it matter at all?
If it is an assessment day, the best advice I can give you is to look at the other candidates as your future peers, not your competition (it helps if there are a number of roles are available within the company). This may help to nerve your calms a bit and hopefully encourage you to collaborate when it comes to teamwork exercise, which from experience companies do like to see from individuals.
If it is a general one-to-one interview situation where you don’t know how many people are being interviewed, or you do know and it really is several other people, well…don’t let it to get to you! Some people will lose motivation, putting less effort in when they know they are in competition with someone else - hence they might over-analyse things and perform worse in an interview situation; whereas some will thrive on competition and it will motivate them to do better. If you are the one who gets bothered by the idea of 5 other people getting interviewed for the same role, I would like to repeat it over and over again to FOCUS ON YOU. Be present at the interview, focus on your experience, your achievements; and try to forget everything else that could distract you from performing at your best (e.g.: things I need to do when I get home from the interview, or I have to get back to work and I’ve got to do this and this and this…..). The worst thing you can do is to sabotage yourself by comparing yourself to others when you actually don’t even know how good (or bad!) they are, or what experience they have. Ask yourself the question: Why am I worried about the other interviewees? You can’t control how the other interviews go, but you can control how you choose to respond to your interview nerves.
Keep your eye peeled for the next series on "What's next if not successful?"